GOP Will Lose in 2016 without Sensible Immigration Reform

 

If the GOP doesn’t put together a sensible immigration policy it will lose the 2016 presidential election.

When Obama beat Romney in 2012, with the former Massachusetts governor attracting only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote with his self-deportation argument, Republicans across the map decided they must develop an immigration-reform policy with an outreach approach to minority groups. According to the Republican National Committee, the days of harsh language and punitive legislation must end. In its place, the GOP must reconstruct the Ronald Reagan/Jack Kemp “big tent” theory of politics, where there is plenty of room for all groups — blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Millennials, women, and gays. As Reagan put it, if you and I agree 80 percent of the time and disagree 20 percent, we are not enemies.

A lot of clear-headed Republicans have a strong dislike for identity-group politics. Me too. Instead, I prefer a program of economic growth, strong national defense, deregulation, low flat-tax-rate reform, free trade, and sound money to unleash American prosperity and bolster national security. If this positive message is sold — to everyone and all groups — it will work politically.

But unfortunately, the Republican desire for immigration reform — and inclusive outreach in general — has splintered. That’s why I fear the GOP may blow an election it absolutely should win.

Making matters tougher for the GOP, Hillary Clinton has come out with a very strong, ultra-liberal immigration policy. It emphasizes a path to citizenship and charges that Republicans will never make immigrants more than “second class” Americans. She would include illegals, the parents of illegals, the 11 million undocumented workers, and immigrants who have already been deported. She might even go farther than Obama with executive actions.

And while Hillary makes political hay with Hispanic voters, the GOP has no unified immigration response.

A recent Wall Street Journal story notes that former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio favor a path to citizenship, but have stepped back to offer legal status. Governor Scott Walker, who was for a pathway to citizenship a few years ago, has shifted to a vague notion of legal-immigration reform that will do no harm to native-born workers and their wages. Senator Ted Cruz is unsure about legal status. Former governors Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee talk about tightening border security without any details on the rest of the problem.

All over the map.

Now, the Republican candidates rightfully agree on the priority of border security. They also correctly oppose President Obama’s extra-legal — or perhaps unconstitutional — expansion of executive power on immigration. But really, those are negatives, not positives.

Left unsolved are the H-1B visas for the high-tech brainiacs, visas for foreign students who are forced to leave the U.S. after going to our great universities, some kind of guest-worker program for the seasonal needs of farm and nonfarm employers, making the e-verify program mandatory, and granting portability.

The GOP should also favor legal status for undocumented workers who have no criminal record and pay their taxes. And Marco Rubio is right: “Every nation needs a unifying language; our unifying language is English.”

According to Hoover economist Timothy Kane, the majority of studies show that increased immigration has a small negative effect on the relative wages of low-skilled native workers. However, economists also agree that the overall effect of increased immigration is positive. More immigrant workers create more demand for goods and services, which creates net new jobs over time.

And if we permitted virtually unlimited immigration for the H-1B brainiacs and the foreign-born MIT students, the potential for new tech inventions and innovations would surge. The result would be more Googles and Intels, hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and tens of millions of dollars in new wealth.

Isn’t that the story of America, which I hope is still the land of opportunity?

And so many illegals risk life and limb to get here. That by itself is an act of entrepreneurship which will be continued in America.

Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention adds to this issue. In a wonderful opinion piece in the Journal, he argues that immigration-bashing will alienate Hispanic Evangelicals. Moore talks about the rising tide of born-again Protestant Hispanic congregations. These people believe in “the sanctity of life, racial justice, economic growth, and the values of hard work.”

Sixteen percent of the nation’s Hispanics are Evangelicals. And they’re a natural GOP constituency if only the Republicans would reach out to them. Their cultural conservatism stands shoulder to shoulder with the economic-growth and prosperity issues that hopefully will form the Republican platform. But so far the outreach hasn’t happened.

All I can say is, the Republican candidates better getting moving. Hillary has fired an immigration shot across the bow. There must be a sensible response.

Published in Domestic Policy
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 85 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Palaeologus Inactive
    Palaeologus
    @Palaeologus

    I tend to buy a chunk of your economic claims Larry, but your electoral analysis is… suspect.

    I mean, really, we’re gonna lose the Hispanic Protestant vote?

    C’mon, man. That is the one of the least frightening GOP electoral “concerns” I’ve ever read.

    Look, for those of you who absolutely refuse to recognize the obvious: the GOP base is clearly opposed to Amnesty. So is the electorate at-large.

    Amnesty isn’t about Hispanic votes, just like Affirmative Action isn’t about Black votes. The electoral issues are about the divergent perceptions of working class whites and suburbanite whites. These are two primary groups of “swing-voters.”

    Both groups tend to oppose Affirmative Action and Amnesty, but the tone of that opposition is the issue at bar.

    Anywho, if you want Amnesty, then what you do is you get a GOP President who accomplishes at least one big thing that the GOP base desires, and then you pitch the Amnesty.

    • #1
  2. Dietlbomb Inactive
    Dietlbomb
    @Dietlbomb

    There is only one sensible immigration reform: make it plain that there is negative incentive for illegal aliens to enter and remain in the United States. Without making it clear that their illegal actions will be punished, it will be impossible to enforce any other immigration laws.

    I suggest an immigration reform in 3 stages.

    The first stage will be a general amnesty: all illegal aliens will be allowed to leave the United States unhindered, but they will not be granted any legal status and they will be summarily deported if caught by law enforcement. This could last approximately 6 months.

    The second stage will implement punishments for illegal aliens caught in the United States. Any illegal aliens caught during the second stage will be subject to 18 months imprisonment and forfeiture of all assets located in the United States followed by deportation; also illegal aliens found during the second stage will forfeit any right to apply for admission to the United States as a guest worker or immigrant. This stage should last 1 to 2 years.

    The third stage will occur after the illegal alien problem has subsided. This is when it will be appropriate to enact general reforms to increase or decrease immigration levels and to reform visa statuses. The punishments for illegal presence in the United States will remain in force. If this policy is followed earnestly, the United States should have a functioning immigration system by the end the next president’s first term.

    • #2
  3. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    If the Republicans pass any sort of amnesty bill, it will do to them what the Fugitive Slave Act of 1852 did to the Whigs.

    • #3
  4. Metalheaddoc Member
    Metalheaddoc
    @Metalheaddoc

    If a GOP candidate has a real heartfelt belief in immigration reform, then he/she can make their case.

    But if the entire motivation is to woo Hispanics, it will fail. The Repubs will never out-liberal the Libs. They will be constantly shifting goalposts and making the GOP out to be heartless xenophobes.

    • #4
  5. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Sorry to say that Mr. Kudlow’s immigration fetish is the reason I quit listening to his podcast. Got tired of this nonsense:

    Larry Kudlow:And if we permitted virtually unlimited immigration for the H-1B brainiacs and the foreign-born MIT students, the potential for new tech inventions and innovations would surge. The result would be more Googles and Intels, hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and tens of millions of dollars in new wealth.

    Hard to know exactly why Mr. Kudlow has this mania for H1-B visas. Suffice it to say if we permitted virtually unlimited immigration for H1-B braniacs, we would virtually guarantee that US Citizen braniacs would be employed for only as long as it took them to train their replacements:

    You’re Fired, Now Train Your Replacement

    Southern California Edison, has been firing American tech workers and replacing them with lower-paid foreign workers brought here through the H-1B visa program.

    Senator Jeff Sessions takes on the myth that we need more H1-B visas in the WSJ

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-h1-b-visas-dont-help-american-stem-graduates-letters-to-the-editor-1430507004

    Regrettably behind paywall, but presumably Mr. Kudlow has a subscription.

    The only sensible step the Republicans can take on immigration is first secure the border with an end-to-end real, physical, double layer fence. Critics of the fence may turn out to be 100% correct that it does nothing. But the way to prove it is to build it. If it would be so ineffective, why are they fighting like Leonidas at Thermopylae to keep it from being built?

    Second, real enforcement.

    Then maybe after 5 years or so begin to debate what should be step 3.

    • #5
  6. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    I agree with Metal head. Don’t try to pander to ethnic groups. We aren’t going to do that better than the party that will stop at nothing. Run on things good for Americans, not certain classes of Americans. As someone who works daily with Hispanics, I don’t think they will automatically vote for whoever is for amnesty. We have some really smart, eloquent candidates in the field. Maybe they can come up with an actual sensible position that they can explain to the voters…..is that too much to ask? I really though Rubio’s immigration reform attempt was going to derail him but in his interviews I like how he had handled the question.

    • #6
  7. user_836033 Member
    user_836033
    @WBob

    Should we grant amnesty to ANY illegals that meet the requirements (not a criminal etc) regardless of whether they are from Mexico or, say, India? Or should a Hispanic illegal be treated differently from a non Hispanic?

    • #7
  8. user_48342 Member
    user_48342
    @JosephEagar

    There are two problems with this approach.  First of all, it is morally wrong (this sort of petty ethnic pandering is never a good idea).  If we learned anything from the 2000s it’s that cynical political ploys can have long-term consequences.  The other problem is that the chief victims of immigration (low- and mid-skilled whites) are our base.

    Poor white people increasingly vote GOP for one reason: they want us to protect them from foreign competition in the domestic American job market.  Frankly, I think that is a reasonable position for them to have given their current skill levels, social capital, access to education, personal productive potentials, etc.

    • #8
  9. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    You’re wrong. The Bush position is a losing one.

    • #9
  10. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @WardRobles

    If you really want illegals (excuse me, undocumented patriots) to leave, elect Hillary Clinton. She will ruin the economy and bankrupt the treasury and make living in America unbearable with her constant hectoring and cackling. And pantsuits. Lots of people, not just Hispanics, will head south looking for work, a lower cost of living, and a little peace and quiet. In fact, that may be my “Plan B.” Or, if a Republican takes office, provide free, one-way plane tickets to Venezuela to the inevitable throngs of Occupy Protesters. It’s a win-win. Venezuela gets more hardened socialists to help them build their utopia, and America makes a serious dent our littering problem. Larry, if you wanted serious comments, you should not have brought this up during the cocktail hour on a Friday.

    Seriously, do not talk about immigration. Talk about welfare. Talk about abolishing handouts and replacing them with work. Immigrants, especially Hispanic immigrants respect hard work and courage, which they have in spades. We do not have an immigration problem, even here in sunny, overcrowded California. We have a huge welfare problem (30% of the cases, 12% of the population). We are over-regulated and burdened with a Byzantine tax code. Sure, we need to secure the border, but that is a national security issue. Put the emphasis on getting the country moving again and keeping the nation safe, not on deporting some poor schlepp who left his village to find work in America.

    • #10
  11. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @SanJoaquinSam

    And so many illegals risk life and limb to get here. That by itself is an act of entrepreneurship which will be continued in America.”

    Yes, this entrepreneurship certainly continues here in the Central Valley.  Stolen cars, copper wire, fuel and farm equipment, vehicle batteries, lawn mowers, home electronics, children’s toys, produce, etc. all find their way to be sold at road side Mercado’s and weekend flee markets across central California.

    This entrepreneurship may not cease; however, neither does the criminality.

    • #11
  12. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    This is both nonsense and madness… “Beat the Democrats by rewarding the illegal influx of more Democrats”.

    • #12
  13. wmartin Member
    wmartin
    @

    Mike LaRoche:If the Republicans pass any sort of amnesty bill, it will do to them what the Fugitive Slave Act of 1852 did to the Whigs.

    If Republicans pass any sort of immigration plan that appeals to Larry Kudlow, then they had damned well better appeal to Hispanics because they will need to find some way to replace my vote, which will be lost to them forever.

    Larry Kudlow is a perfect example of someone who can’t understand that the United States is a nation and not just an economy.

    • #13
  14. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Mr. Kudlow this has already been debunked by the wonderful Heather MacDonald.  You know I really wish you open borders guys would stop lying to Republican voters.  You think that Hispanics will provide you with cheap indigenous labor but the truth is that most of them do not look at America the way you wish they would.  You are inviting a ready-made Democrat voting bloc into the US and you are so blinded by the prospect of profits that you cannot even see it.

    • #14
  15. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Mike LaRoche:If the Republicans pass any sort of amnesty bill, it will do to them what the Fugitive Slave Act of 1852 did to the Whigs.

    If you are a Maryland Conservative, join me in my effort to start the Maryland Independent Party.  That’s right MDIP.  We all know that if we win in 2016 and maintain both houses of Congress, we are going to get sold down the river on immigration reform by the GOP.  I just feel it no matter who wins with only slight exception.  Just look at the recent National Review piece about how Obamacare subsidies were kept alive.  We are being governed by anti-American Marxists and represented by cowardly traitors.  It’s time to find another party.

    • #15
  16. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Larry Kudlow: And while Hillary makes political hay with Hispanic voters, the GOP has no unified immigration response.

    Why should the Republicans have a unified response?  If the candidates in the primary have differing views on immigration AND immigration is a hot issue with primary voters, then the primary voters will decide what the unified response is.

    Among my friends and co-workers, we are unified on:

    1.  Seal the borders.

    2.  No amnesty.

    3.  No legal status unless the illegal aliens go home and apply using the existing mechanisms.

    While I will pull the big “R” no matter who the nominee is, I know of one friend who will not vote for Jeb under any circumstances, nor will he vote for Rubio because of his “Gang of Eight” participation.

    • #16
  17. Mario the Gator Inactive
    Mario the Gator
    @Pelayo

    The impact of brainiacs with H1B visas is impossible to truly measure.  On the one hand it does give the U.S. an immediate increase of workers in high-tech industries.  On the other hand, they are paid less and so it keeps the salaries in these industries artificially lower than they would be if only U.S. Citizens could apply for the open jobs. Higher salaries would entice more young Americans into STEM degrees instead of other areas of study.

    Studies do show however that the U.S. is going to have a huge shortage of workers in high-tech industries very soon.  H1B visas are going to be a necessity to fill those jobs. Otherwise the jobs will go overseas and that will absolutely hurt our economy.

    The other aspect to consider is that not everyone has the natural talent to be a computer programmer or a biotech engineer.  Based on raw population figures and assuming there is a percentage of people with the right natural talent and disposition, it is clear that countries like India and China will have a lot more people who can do that type of work.  Twenty percent of 3 billion is much more than twenty percent of 300 million.  Being able to cherry-pick world class talent from other countries is a huge advantage for the U.S. and we should not throw it away.

    • #17
  18. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter
    @DaveCarter

    “And so many illegals risk life and limb to get here. That by itself is an act of entrepreneurship which will be continued in America.”

    Here are some entrepreneurs who were apprehended recently in Laredo.  They included two child molesters and one homicide suspect. Imagine how many were not caught, and the diversity they will bring to our communities.  Yes, we must get moving right away and find a way to out-do Hillary.

    • #18
  19. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    I’m not sure that Mr. Kudlow is correct in predicting that the GOP will lose in 2016 if it does not adopt his policies.  What I do know for sure is that if the GOP does adopt his policies, then 2016 is the last election in which it will ever have a snowflake’s chance on a hot stove.

    • #19
  20. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    the GOP must reconstruct the Ronald Reagan/Jack Kemp “big tent” theory of politics, where there is plenty of room for all groups — blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Millennials, women, and gays”

    Absolutely. Deserving GOP leaders and conservative media voices from all these categories are helping. (Jason Reilly, Marco Rubio, John Yoo, Charlie Kirk, Carly Fiorina, Guy Benson.) Let’s also put forward entertainers and athletes, whence came Reagan and Kemp.

    Let’s sound humane, not harsh, as we restore order to the borders. We need to phase out family chain immigration, and go with policies favoring workers we actually need; refugees from socialism and religious persecution; and those who have stood in line the longest.

    The “path to citizenship” begins at the end of the line.

    • #20
  21. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    “Hispanic evangelicals”???  Mr. Kudlow, have you noticed that there are thousands of African-American churches filled Southern Baptist “evangelicals,” and that 99% of those people voted for Obama?  Who are you trying to kid here?

    economists also agree that the overall effect of increased immigration is positive. More immigrant workers create more demand for goods and services, which creates net new jobs over time.”

    What a contemptible, ummm, prevarication.  Illegal immigrants do immeasurable damage to the economy, and the people who are hurt the worst are the legal immigrants who lose their low wage jobs to these illegals — and with those jobs lose any hope of climbing the economic ladder.

    The GOP message to Hispanic voters needs to be:  “Enforcing our immigration laws is the most important thing the federal government can do to assure that your children will have a better life.  Granting amnesty is the biggest thing the federal government can do to keep you and your children mired in poverty, dependency, and despair – forever.  Which side of that choice do you want to be on?”

    • #21
  22. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    This is truly a fantstical idea filled with meaningless exhortations.

    “…  the Republican desire for immigration reform — and inclusive outreach in general — has splintered. That’s why I fear the GOP may blow an election it absolutely should win. ”

    Larry, it’s always been splintered and it will continue to be so. Where have you been?

    Mr. Kudlow is living in a fantasy world if he thinks diverse candidates would or could somehow all agree on one of the most divisive issues in the campaign. If this were economics, it’d be like wanting everyone to to just ‘share’.

    “The result would be more Googles and Intels, hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and tens of millions of dollars in new wealth.

    Isn’t that the story of America, which I hope is still the land of opportunity?”

    Opportunity for whom, Larry? Wealth for whom, your buddies? It’s absolutely sickening how out of touch these Wall St elites are while they try to hide behind this meaningless rhetorical pablum. 

    Further revealing his political naivete, Kudlow believes Republicans can effectively counter Hillary’s giving away the proverbial store to illegals by proposing to give away 3/4ths of the store.

    Somehow the GOP will attract hispanic evangelicals who are somehow a natural fit within the GOP but for this single issue, and let’s not kid ourselves, these hispanic evangelicals are social conservatives, a group with whom Kudlow’s branch of ‘Republicans have little in common.’

    • #22
  23. MJBubba Inactive
    MJBubba
    @MJBubba

    I think mass deportations is a bad idea.   Amnesty should be available, with conditions.   The conditions should include the payment of back taxes.   After the taxes are paid, then a path to citizenship may commence, which will take 21 years, because that is a reasonable penalty for violation of immigration law.

    Then, we will need to carefully define what it means to be a citizen.   The liberal courts have made such a hash of citizenship that it is no longer possible in many jurisdictions to make any distinction between a legal resident and a citizen.

    • #23
  24. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    And so many illegals risk life and limb to get here. That by itself is an act of entrepreneurship which will be continued in America.

    Talk about “all over the map”, Larry wants the H1B brainiacs but conflates them with the peasants who, out of desperation flee the southern border countries. This is not entrepenuership or a demonstrative act of such. This makes me wonder whether Larry Kudlow understands basic concepts, or just thinks we don’t.

    Maybe he doesn’t think at all. Maybe he just wants something and finds a smorgasboard of reasons and thinks it stands as some kind of argument.

    I’m sure Larry would be first to hire the next guy who escapes from San Quentin, why, he’s gonna be the next Bill Gates! We’re gonna make millions! Millions I tell ya!

    • #24
  25. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    If Republicans want to combat liberal demonizations without undermining the order their base demands, they should emphasize repair of the legal immigration process.

    But emphasis in a campaign requires skillful management of hostile media. Republican candidates rarely demonstrate competence at controlling the conversation.

    • #25
  26. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention adds to this issue. In a wonderful opinion piece in the Journal, he argues that immigration-bashing will alienate Hispanic Evangelicals. Moore talks about the rising tide of born-again Protestant Hispanic congregations. These people believe in “the sanctity of life, racial justice, economic growth, and the values of hard work.”

    I guess Larry means The Wall Street Journal when he says “the Journal”  the go-to publication for open borders Republicanism and there’s no link and whaaaat? a paywall?!!! A kind of fence, a kind of ‘border’ hmmm.  Let’s try to analyse this mish mash of ideas and pleas. Somehow wanting to keep our national sovreignity, respect for existing laws and our identity is “immigration-bashing” according to this preacher and Larry.

    Well, if these folks don’t understand basic concepts about America  – or ANY country, then they will never vote for Republicans when Democrats are the alternative. And do we want this type of voter in the Republican party? What kind of Republican attracts this type of voter, and how will our country look after a few elections based on these unAmerican concepts rule the debate?

    And it’s hilarious that Larry doesn’t see the racial justice trope plain as day after he writes, “A lot of clear-headed Republicans have a strong dislike for identity-group politics. Me too. ”

    Really? LK Stupid or liar?

    • #26
  27. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    MJBubba:I think mass deportations is a bad idea. Amnesty should be available, with conditions. The conditions should include the payment of back taxes. After the taxes are paid, then a path to citizenship may commence, which will take 21 years, because that is a reasonable penalty for violation of immigration law.

    Then, we will need to carefully define what it means to be a citizen. The liberal courts have made such a hash of citizenship that it is no longer possible in many jurisdictions to make any distinction between a legal resident and a citizen.

    We need to define and respect what a citizen is NOW. Who is advocating mass deportations? No one.

    As a practical matter, anything that ‘takes 21 years” will be subject to change, it won’t remain static. Who is going to read the bill? Will we ever see what’s in it before it’s voted on?

    And all these conditions Larry and others claim they require…They aren’t going to alienate hispanics?

    It’s going to look like this: The Republicans passed amnesty! This will result in a brief spike in hispanic affection for the GOP maybe 5 – 7 % gain in voters (still not a majority). Next the demonization and the sob stories will commence. Jose is working two jobs to pay off his back taxes and he still can’t vote. He hasn’t learned English because there aren’t enough schools in his county, all because of Republicans.

    • #27
  28. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Well apparently the GOP will definitely lose with sensible immigration reform too.  Gloomy news.

    • #28
  29. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Part of politics is being different, Larry, I hate to break it to you. Some of us believe that you can win elections by being different, not by promising things to people who are never going to like you or agree with you. If these people don’t already agree, they will never agree. It’s a fools game to chase after this demographic outside our borders and ignore its corollary – those of us who want rules to be enforced –  inside our borders.

    Hispanics and Wall Street oriented voters are split between Republican and Democrat for many reasons outside of immigration. Most hispanics vote for Democrats and it will remain that way regardless of the GOP stand on immigration.  The investment class is filled with Democrats and fair weather Republicans – not the guys you want leading any political charge – so you are trying to pander to groups which have a very low incentive, if any, to choose your side. The best you could do is pick off a tiny percentage of them. Who is saying that if Republicans put together a sensible immigration reform bill, that they will vote GOP in perpetuity? No one.

    • #29
  30. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    I think most Americans could agree to a compromise on immigration ‘reform’ if there was any realist expectations that it would be an honorable compromise, and both sides would give some and get some, and that the government would do what it promised to do on their side.

    The problem is, we KNOW that won’t happen.  The government and the special interests will lie to us to get what they want, and they will fail to keep their promises.  They will write the laws to allow them to maneuver out of their promises to the citizens, and ignore whatever they find ‘inconvenient’.

    WE’VE LOST TRUST, and for good reason.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.